Keeping with (Southern) Tradition

Shoo off bad weather or predict your future with century-old rituals.

Matt Schmachtenberg Photography

Exchanging wedding vows dating back half a millenia isn’t the only tradition that’s alive and well in the South. Here, we take pleasure in doing some things the old-fashioned way. Borrowed and blue? Your grandma did it, too. And there’s a good chance she might have dug up a bottle of aged bourbon, pulled a charm before meeting your grandfather, or had a say in that chocolate and peanut butter groom’s cake.

Lucky Charms

Victorians loved tradition—and, over a century after the ribbon pull debuted in the United Kingdom, single friends of the bride still gather ‘round for the cake pull. Each one pulls a delicate ribbon from under the bottom layer of the wedding cake to reveal a fortune-telling charm. Pull a boot and pack your bags because you’re traveling soon. Pull a flower and a blossoming relationship could be on the horizon. Pull a moon—and opportunity awaits. 

Shoveling Up Spirits

There’s a certain thrill in grabbing a shovel and digging into fresh earth in a pristine white wedding dress. Especially if it comes with the promise of clear skies ahead. The Virginia tradition of burying the bourbon dictates that couples must bury a full bottle of bourbon upside down one month before they say, “I do.” If the bottle is left undisturbed until the morning of the ceremony, the forecast will be on their side, ushering in sunny skies and seasonally perfect temperatures. Take a celebratory swig before walking down the aisle or pass the bottle around with your wedding party after tying the knot. 

A Toast to the Groom

The year was 1989. Steel Magnolias introduced the country to the armadillo cake and a classic Southern tradition. First developed by none other than those ritual-loving Victorian couples, the groom’s cake traditionally offered guests a richer alternative to standard flavors. However, in the decades since that red velvet armadillo hit the silver screen, the world has seen an explosion of creative, over-the-top, and clever groom’s cakes showing off favorite sports teams, alma maters, and more than a few Star Wars obsessions.  

This article originally appeared in the February 2023 issue.

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